Legislative Report

$1.1 Billion—One Department

By Sen. Tom Jones

District 17

Last week the Joint Appropriations Committee met with the Department of Social Services for three days and heard testimony from their department. The requested budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year was $1.1 billion. This included a $24 million increase from the prior year. $452 million is state General Fund and $643 million is federal money. The DSS part of state government employs 1,656 full time staff. Of the South Dakotans they serve, 69 percent are children.

Before I go any further, I should apologize for all the numbers that will follow. Numbers can be boring and that is not my intent.

The Division of Economic Assistance controls about $84 million: $60 million is federal and $24 million is state funds. The major players in this area are: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and others.

The Division of Medical Services handles the Medicaid state plan. This division serves low-income children, pregnant women, adults, elderly, disabled, children in foster care, etc. It is a huge part of our budget. A total of $585 million is mainly spent on four areas: health care services, physician services, inpatient hospital, outpatient, and prescription drugs. The Division of Adult Services and Aging serves adults 60 years of age and older, adults with disabilities, and victims of crime. Its total budget is $180 million.

The Division of Child Support Services provides services for almost 60,000 families who need help collecting child support. Its budget is between $7 and $8 million.

We spent a long time discussing the State Employees Health Insurance Plan with the Human Services Department. How to ease the ever-increasing rise of these costs was the main portion of this important area. We listened to an actuarial report suggesting three methods to address this issue. In the actuarial firm’s opinion, the best method for South Dakota was to set up a reserve fund and we should determine at what level of confidence we could basically self-insure ourselves. This discussion has been centered on the fact that a very few claimants, through no-fault of their own, are a large amount of dollars spent. The top 5 percent of Medicaid recipients represent 57 percent of all costs.

Bills passed by the House of Representatives are beginning to cross over to the Senate side.

Again, if you have questions or concerns, please contact me at sen.jones@state.sd.us.

Tom Jones, Senator

District 17

South Dakota






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